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Why Organic Wine Is Here To Stay

“Organic” is a buzzword that’s slowly gaining traction in the food and beverage industry. In 2017, “organic” food accounted for 5.5 percent of retail food sales in the US. Now, organic wine is becoming popular and increasing in global market growth.

Is there really a difference between organic wine and wine that doesn’t carry the organic label? Many sommeliers and wine experts say yes.

How It's Grown

It starts with the grape. Organically grown grapes make organic wine through a rigorous process of vine maintenance. However, the winemaking process must also meet certain requirements in order to be certified.

All agricultural ingredients that are added to organic wine must also be certified organic. Additives that are non-agricultural must be on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Additives cannot make up more than 5 percent of the total product.

Another common concern is the use of sulfur-dioxide in the winemaking process. Sulfur-dioxide increases shelf life and preserves the flavor of the wine. Pesticides or chemicals are also found in non-organic wine, with small amounts being bottled and consumed.

U.S. wines that are labeled organic cannot have added sulfites, pesticides, or chemicals.

Labeling Organic Wine

In order for wine to be labeled organic, it must meet strict requirements. These include the USDA Organic Certification and certain requirements by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the USDA National Organic Program.

After meeting these requirements, two different labels can be put on organic wine: “Organic” and “Made With Organic Grapes.”

“Organic” Wine:

  • All yeast must be certified organic. This may be waived if the strain desired is not available as organic.
  • All agricultural ingredients must be certified organic, including grapes. (Exceptions can be found on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.)
  • Added sulfites are prohibited.
  • Only non-agricultural ingredients on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances can be added and may not make up more than 5 percent of the total product. (This does not include water and salt.)

Wine That’s “Made with Organic Grapes”:

  • All grapes must be certified organic.
  • Other agricultural ingredients (such as yeast) are not required to be organic.
  • Wine may contain up to 100 PPM of sulfur-dioxide.
  • Only non-agricultural ingredients on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances can be added and may not make up more than 5 percent of the total product. (This does not include water and salt.)

Certification isn’t a one-time process. It must be completed annually in order for a wine to maintain its organic label.

Benefits Of Organic Wine

Historically, societies use wine as part of their health and wellness regimen. Red wine is well-known for improving heart health, protecting against arteriosclerosis, and combating free radical damage in the body.

Organic wine has additional health benefits because it removes the more harmful aspects of regular wine like additives, pesticides, and non-agricultural chemicals.

Organic wine doesn’t have added sulfites. Sulfites are found naturally in the skin of grapes and are present in small amounts (even in organic wine), but they’re not added during the winemaking process. Organic wine isn’t sulfite-free, but regulations for organic certification require that the sulfite level must be less than 20 PPM.

Organic wine is also free of synthetic additives, such as synthetic herbicides and pesticides. It doesn’t have any genetically modified organisms (GMOs), including GMO yeast.

Non-organic grapes don’t have yeasts that occur naturally in the grape skin, because they’re destroyed by pesticides. Organic grapes often retain these yeasts, and most winemakers use them to enhance flavor.

Organic grape-growing and winemaking are also great for the environment because they use sustainable organic production and farming methods. This is better for the Earth and for the wine.

Organic Wine Market Outlook

In November 2018, The Institute of Wine & Study Research, a wine and spirits consultancy, released a global forecast of organic wine. According to the report, global sales of organic wine will reach $1 billion by 2022, a stark increase from 2017 sales at $676 million.

In 2017, almost four out of every five bottles of organic wine sold were in Europe. Those sales accounted for 50 percent of the market with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Until 2022, the US is expected to drive sales growth with a rise exceeding 14 percent, while Norway and South Africa closely follow at 13.5 percent.

Organic wine is a booming market with growth that won’t be slowing down. It’s best to begin offering organic wines at your restaurant or shop. DMV Distributing offers several organic wines that your customers will love.

Want more information on wine trends? Get in the know by contacting DMV Distributing for more information:

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Topics: Wine Insider